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Taiwan's new leader wants closer ties with Korea

Taiwan's President-elect Tsai Ing-wen voiced optimism Tuesday about future relations with South Korea, saying the two sides now have one more thing in common: first-ever female leaders.

It's historically meaningful that both countries, which already share democratic values and development experiences, have embraced female presidents, she said.

Tsai, an independence-leaning opposition leader, won the Taiwanese presidential polls over the weekend.

"I cherish the common experiences of South Korea and Taiwan, including their values of democracy and freedom" as Asia's rising powers, she said in a written interview with Yonhap News Agency.

It was her first interview with a South Korean news outlet since her election.

She took note of "very big changes" in politics and the economy amid the wave of globalization.

"South Korea and Taiwan are expected to strengthen exchanges in every sector, based on longstanding friendly ties and shared democratic values, not only for more welfare for the people of the two nations but also for the peace, happiness, and more benefits in the region and the international community," she said.

As to trade, Tsai vowed to seek intensive partnerships with South Korea and many other countries. South Korea is Taiwan's fifth-largest trading partner.

She said her administration will endeavor to help develop both the U.S.-led Trans-Pacific Partnership and the China-led Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership if those are needed to achieve the goals of promoting peace, cooperation, and economic growth in the region and the world.

Tsai said she is a fan of Korean dramas and food, in particular kimchi.

The South Korean government's cultural policy and insight were behind the rapid spread of the "Korean Wave" worldwide, she said, indicating her government will take its cues from South Korea in that field.

She also cited her personal ties with South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

She wrote a recommendation letter in the Chinese version of Park's memoir published in Taiwan in 2012.

On the controversy over Chou Tzu-yu, a K-pop singer who waved Taiwan's national flag on a South Korean entertainment TV program, Tsai said she already made clear her view in her victory speech.

At that time, Tsai said the 16-year-old Taiwanese girl has suffered "oppression," citing fierce criticism from Chinese people.

"This particular incident will serve as a constant reminder to me about the importance of our country's strength and unity to those outside our borders," she said. "This will be one of the most important responsibilities for me as the next president of the Republic of China." (Yonhap)

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